Gustaf Hoffstedt: Is the Swedish state giving Casino Cosmopol preferential treatment?

In the May/June edition of Gambling Insider magazine, Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of BOS, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, examines how Casino Cosmopol is treated by the Swedish authorities. Below is an preview of the article, the full edition of which can be read here when published.

Casino Cosmopol, a subsidiary of state-owned Svenska Spel, recently had its licence extended, with the Swedish Gambling Authority renewing the licence for Sweden’s only land-based casino operator for five years. The decision was made despite the Authority having found shortcomings in Casino Cosmopol’s anti-money laundering procedures at the end of 2018. The seriousness of such a lapse for a business that handles large amounts of cash can’t be stressed enough.

The Gambling Authority only awards five-year licences to operators who uphold the highest standard for the parameters the Authority uses to assess a gaming company’s conduct and suitability. In the absence of a spotless record, the Authority has the option to award a shorter licence term of two years.

Rejecting a licence application is, of course, the most serious form of sanction the Gambling Authority can issue, but the seriousness and implications of only granting a two-year licence cannot be overstated. Such a decision is noted by regulators in other jurisdictions, who may question whether they should award a licence to an operator their Swedish counterpart has found wanting. A second-tier licence is also noted by investors and creditors, who will demand compensation for the increased risk associated with a more time-limited licence.

However, this was not the fate that befell Casino Cosmopol, which was instead granted a full five-year licence term. This story has reignited a question that is always smouldering in the Swedish gaming market: does the Swedish state treat its own gaming company differently from other players in the market?

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